ESPN: Zack Greinke among high-priced veterans who need to bounce back

Dec 7, 2016, 1:07 PM
Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke (21) waits on a new baseball after giving up a lead-off h...

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke (21) waits on a new baseball after giving up a lead-off home run to San Francisco Giants' Denard Span, background left, during the first inning of a baseball game, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

(AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

When the Diamondbacks signed pitcher Zack Greinke just more than a year ago, it was believed they were getting a bona fide ace who would lead their rotation and, possibly, the team to the playoffs.

To say it did not work out would be accurate.

Greinke allowed seven runs on nine hits in four innings in an Opening Day loss, and while there were stretches of dominance over the course of the season, injury and inconsistency plagued him to the tune of a 13-7 record with a 4.37 ERA and a WHIP of 1.27.

It was the fewest wins and worst ERA/WHIP he’s had in a season since 2010, and not at all what the D-backs had in mind when they inked him to one of the offseason’s richest contracts.

So, then, it should not come as a surprise that Greinke landed on ESPN baseball writer David Schoenfield’s list of high-priced players who need to bounce back in 2017.

Greinke has five years and $172.5 million remaining on his contract.

Greinke wasn’t near as bad as the three guys above, and while he did go 13-7, his 4.37 ERA was disappointing, and some minor injuries limited him to 26 starts. At $34 million and then up to $35 million in the next four years, a trade is unlikely. As Mark Simon wrote the other day, however, one thing that could help Greinke and the other Arizona pitchers: Veteran Jeff Mathis, a good pitch-framer, was brought in to replace Welington Castillo, who wasn’t offered a contract.

With Greinke, Robbie Ray (fifth-best strikeout rate among starters), the just-acquired Taijuan Walker, Shelby Miller, Braden Shipley and Archie Bradley, there’s a lot of potential for this rotation to improve on its second-worst ERA in the majors. You can’t expect Greinke to repeat his sub-2.00 ERA of 2015 with the Dodgers, especially playing in Arizona, but 200 innings and an ERA in the high 2s would help redeem his $206 million contract.

As Schoenfield notes, part of the hope with Greinke posting a better season comes with the idea that he could headline a much-improved rotation. It would be unreasonable to expect all of the D-backs’ young hurlers to step up, but if just a couple of them improve and Greinke, now 33, returns to form, Arizona could have one of the National League’s better pitching staffs.

Joining Grenke on the list are the Washington Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman, the Boston Red Sox’ Pablo Sandoval, the Detroit Tigers’ Jordan Zimmerman and Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners.

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ESPN: Zack Greinke among high-priced veterans who need to bounce back